I’m writing a series about a cottage my family would visit each summer in Massachusetts. This is part 3. You can read the previous posts here.
The histories are a bit muddy for me, but I believe my grandmother lived in a different tiny cottage across Lake Lashaway as a child. When she married and had her own children, she and my grandpa purchased the cottage that my mother, and later the rest of my family, grew up visiting (before it was torn down and rebuilt when I was a teenager). We affectionally called that first cottage “the camp”, and it awaited us at the end of that long, bumpy gravel road.
The house was small with a cobblestone exterior. I grew up in a neighborhood of kit homes, and was always mesmerized by the cottage’s walls puzzle-pieced together. It felt alive and pure—those stones weren’t sanded or stripped or painted or pounded into place. They were carefully laid, their pattern curated by someone with a vision. It felt intimate and artistic. To this day, I have a bucket list goal to wind up with a house with similar elements.
Nestled between two modern builds, our tiny, creaky getaway cottage looked out of place, obviously left behind and trapped in another time. But for our family who only visited two weeks each year, the house’s oddities gave it all its charm. To walk through its front door was to welcome the comforts that can only come from a home stitched together with love.
In truth, the cottage was an old boathouse that was converted into a home. If I remember correctly, the front room had dirt floors, and I found it humorous when my mom occasionally tidied them with her broom. There was a small kitchen with an ancient oven, a deep farmhouse sink, and a round wooden table pushed against one wall. The memories are fuzzy, but the floors seemed to be green-painted concrete with rising cracks. It was dim inside, but I remember faded pale colors, as if the kitchen too were caught in a decade long forgotten. And I think there was at one time a cukoo-clock on the wall.
Next to the kitchen was the small, narrow living room. I remember a long, horrendously dusty brown couch decorated with a 70’s colored crocheted blanket. An old television sat in one corner—was it next to a fireplace? I don’t remember exactly, but I do remember and will never forget my grandfather’s great chair, with the tall back. I believe it had patriotic symbols across it. It wasn’t very comfortable, but my siblings and I found it endearing and were happy when it made the move to the new cottage, years later.
My favorite part of the main floor was actually not in the house. The shower was outside, in the dark tool shed. Don’t ask me how folks were supposed to bathe there in the winter! It was always thrilling and terrifying to don my tiny flip flops, pull back the large, brown door, and step in among the saws, hammers, and spiders for my shower. I don’t think there was even a curtain to separate the room. I just remember a black mat to stand on while I washed away the sand. The whole ordeal felt adventurous and concluded with the short run back to the house, wrapped tightly in my beach towel.
It seems the more I try to remember, the more these memories smear and blur together. Like an artist who hasn’t cleaned their brush before dipping into their colors. I almost feel a bit of a panic, that what once was so vibrant could now muddy. Ahh. Well. I’m happy to be writing this series while I am. This is life, to grow and let go.